Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Healthy" Food Options Lead to Unhealthy Food Choices

I mentioned several theories of obesity from low carb and Paleo gurus in a previous post. Today, I want to show some psychological reasons why people make poor food choices, potentially ending up obese. The theory of eating cues is not meant to replace any other theories about obesity, merely to supplement them. External triggers are very real.

Two important studies in the Journal of Consumer Research show why “healthy” choices in a restaurant may lead to unhealthy meal selection. Words like “healthy” are in quotations marks, as the dominant paradigm of these studies is that low fat, high carb is good and high fat is bad. We Paleo and low carb types know better. Still, they make for very interesting reading and offer yet another reason why obesity may be increasing.

In the first study, consumers who went to Subway believed they were eating healthy food. This led to choosing a “healthy” sandwich, but several “unhealthy” sides, such as sugary drinks and cookies.  When asked to estimate the number of calories they consumed, they estimated, on average, 35% fewer calories than they actually consumed. They did not make this magnitude of error estimating calories when eating at McDonald’s. Subway is permeated by a “health halo” that implies all of the menu items at Subway are healthy. In reality, some sandwiches have more calories than a Big Mac. At McDonald’s, people are not under the illusion that they are eating healthy foods, so they may actually consume fewer calories than at Subway.

second study explains why this is happening. Consumers have a goal of eating healthier, and “healthy” items on the menu confirm their goal of healthy eating. The mere presence of a “healthy” menu choice does three things.  First, it vicariously fulfills a desire or goal the make more “healthy” eating choices. Second, it focuses the consumer’s attention on the least healthy item in the choice set. And finally, it provides consumers with a license to indulge. Their goal of eating at a “healthy” restaurant is met, so they don’t actually have to eat in a “healthy” manner, just eat at a “healthy” restaurant. This is what focuses their attention on the unhealthy menu options and leads them to indulge, and this study demonstrates convincingly that this is even true with individuals who have a high degree of self-control. The authors of this paper demonstrated this effect in four different studies across different contexts. It also works in vending machines with more “healthy” options (sales of Snickers bars go up).

What does this all mean? In the rush to add “healthier” items to the menus at unhealthy restaurants, the net effect is an increase in sales of unhealthy items. When “healthy” items are not present, consumers make “wiser” decisions about their “healthy” food choices.

So as I have shown before (here and here), cues, such as "healthy" food options, plate size, container size, 100-calorie packages, etc., have a direct and unrecognized impact on how people eat what they eat. So it is not all food palatability, carbs, toxins, NADs, modern lifestyle, genetics, or infections that lead to obesity. Sometimes, it is also pure psychology.

There are a lot of other food cues to report on, but all in due time. Keep watching this space!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why We Get Fat, According to...

Gary Taubes blames carbs, especially the refined carbs like wheat and sugar.

Laura Dolson is generally with Taubes on the refined carbs, but she also blames marketing.

As a marketing professor, I find straw men arguments like this patently ridiculous. Marketing is not all powerful; if it were, I would have created a junk product and marketed it to all of you idiots out there, who would have bought it. You wouldn't have a choice; marketing would have forced you to buy it, and I could retire in style to the French Riviera. Unfortunately, life isn't like that. Consumers have brains and can choose to not purchase marketed products. Up to 95% of new products fail, despite massive amounts of marketing. The influence of the home can swamp any marketing campaign. Massive amounts of food industry marketing do not work on me, for example, or the example I set in my family. I have a brain and I choose differently.

Also, does marketing/advertising create food attitudes, or merely reflect already existing attitudes in people? Any competent social scientist will tell you it is very hard to change behavior. While I think marketing can help to create attitudes, it mostly reflects what already exists. Take smoking, for example. Reasons people smoke include parental example/rebellion against parents; peer pressure; stress and anxiety reductions; desire to lose weight, etc. Marketing, though often blamed for smoking (Exhibit A: Joe Camel), is not even mentioned as a factor (I would argue that marketing only informs brand choice, not the decision to smoke).  Get real, folks. Marketing is just not as powerful as you would like to believe. It may be a convenient whipping boy, but your belief in the absolute power of marketing is a fantasy.

Kurt Harris blames the Neolithic Agents of Disease, including fructose, wheat, and seed oils.

Stephan Guyenet blames highly palatable food choices for weight gain.

Paul Jaminet blames malnutrition, dietary toxins, and infections for obesity.

Chris Kresser says there is no single cause of or treatment for obesity. Later, he says that modern lifestyle + genetic predisposition = obesity.

What do I believe? I used to believe Gary Taubes, because the solution he proposed worked for me, to a point. Harris, Jaminet, and Kresser are all singing variations of the same tune, so I suppose I am in their camp now. I am following the Perfect Health Diet, though I am stalled at the moment. They seem the most reasonable, the most scientifically based, even though I have criticized science as a justifying principle for belief. But I guess I have to hang my hat somewhere.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Large Containers, Large Plates

Yesterday, I wrote about research on chronic dieters and small package size. Today, I want to report on some research about large container size and its impact on eating.

Apparently, chronic dieters and their small packages aside, the larger the container, the more people will consume. This article reports on container size and palatability, and is one of Brian Wansink's infamous popcorn studies. Popcorn was given away during an early afternoon movie screening (just after lunch, so consumers would not be hungry) in either medium or large buckets. The popcorn was either freshly popped or stale (14 days old). But whether or not the popcorn was palatable was not the issue; consumers ate 45% more fresh popcorn from the big buckets and 33.6% more stale popcorn from the big buckets than from the medium buckets. The conclusion: container size is a powerful cue to how much you eat. There is another version of this popcorn study. In this second study, people who reported they disliked the stale popcorn still ate 61% more popcorn from a large rather than the medium container. Those who reported they liked the fresh popcorn ate 49% more popcorn from the large rather than the medium container. The conclusion: container size is a powerful cue for consumption. The bigger the container, the more will be consumed, whether the food is palatable or not.

Another, similar study was conducted to demonstrate the effects of plate size on portions. This video (select the menu button on the player and scroll to the last segment) explains the study. Basically, participants scoop pasta on to a small plate. Before they can take the plate to the table, they are distracted. During the distraction, the plate and food are surreptitiously weighed. The server then "accidentally" coughs or sneezes on the plate and offers the participant a second plate and has them scoop up more pasta. The catch: the second plate is much larger. Once again, the plate is surreptitiously weighed before the plate is taken away. The results: the same person scoops up 25% more pasta on to the larger plate rather than the smaller plate. The takeaway from the study: we are cued into how much to eat by plate size.

Are people in the low carb/paleo communities susceptible to these cues? You betcha.  But as Brian Wansink, the author of the above studies, wrote in his book Mindless Eating, you can use these cues to your advantage. Serve your meals on smaller plates and "mindlessly" consume less. As I have mentioned previously, I have stalled on my low carb journey and need to cut calories. An easy way to do this is by using smaller containers and plates.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

100-Calorie Food Packages and Low Carb

As my cousin Cathy once said, "When I think of all the reasons I eat, hunger has very little to do with it." How true. There is more psychology involved in eating than one may think, and there is a lot of interesting food research out there to report on. Not all of it is low carb or Paleo, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Since I am a marketing professor, I have decided to report on some of the interesting food research that I stumble across in the academic marketing literature. I will link to abstracts and full text articles whenever possible, though if you don't have academic access, you may not be able to pull up the full article. But fear not: I will summarize them in plain English and avoid the statistics and academic-speak.

Today's topic: diet "food" in 100-calorie packages. According to this article published in the Journal of Consumer Research, chronic dieters perceive that if a food, such as M&Ms, comes in a 100-calorie pack, it is a diet food. This perception can prompt chronic dieters to overeat the "diet food" contained in the 100-calorie pack. The authors caution dieters to be wary of "foods" contained in 100-calorie packs.

In a second study about small packages of food, this article, also in the same issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, shows that large packages trigger concerns of overeating in chronic dieters, but small packages do not trigger the same concerns. In fact, small packages actually encourage chronic dieters to eat more.

In this clever study, one group of participants had their dietary concerns "activated" by taking surveys about dieting and thinness and by being weighed and measured in front of mirrors. They were then asked to evaluate commercials during an episode of Friends. Another group was given the same task, but did not take the dieting surveys and were not weighed and measured prior to watching Friends. The research participants thought they would be evaluating TV advertisements, but that was really a distraction from the true purpose of the study. The researchers actually monitored how many potato chips participants consumed during the TV show.

The catch: the chips came in large bags and small bags. The group whose dietary concerns were activated by the survey and the weigh in did not consumer very many chips from the large bags, but ate a lot of chips from the small bags. The control group ate roughly the same amount of chips from large or small bags.

The takeaway: dieters actually consume more high-calorie snacks when they are in small packages rather than large packages.

So, combining the results from the two studies, dieters perceive food in 100-calorie packages to be diet food, and they will eat more of them, even if they are, in reality, high calorie snacks.

Do we in the low carb/Paleo communities fall prey to this, too? I know I have, in the past. For example, these 10 gram, 70% dark chocolate mignonettes each have three grams of carbs, one gram of fiber (for two net grams of carbs), 3 grams of saturated fat in the healthy cocoa butter, and 59 calories. Isn't that a perfect, low carb food? Yes--if you eat one piece. But if you perceive it to be "diet" food and overeat it, then no, it is not good for you and is in reality a high-calorie snack.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Justifying Principles

An epistemological question: why do people believe what they believe about low carb/paleo/ancestral ways of living? What are your justifying principles? I have written before about how tough it is to justify dietary dogmas. But I think I would like to revisit that question in more detail.

It seems to me that in the low carb world, the overarching belief is that "carbs are bad." Gary Taubes, at least as interpreted by his adherents, seems to be a big proponent of this philosophy. According to this view, carbs are fattening, and therefore, cutting carbs causes people to lose weight. But I have actually read Taubes' two main books, and while he is certainly down on carbs, he does seem to be especially down on fructose and refined carbs, not all carbs. Also, this theory is under attack, with many paleo and primal types rejecting it. As Chris Kresser pointed out, just because cutting carbs is a cure to obesity, it doesn't logically follow that carbs cause obesity. We are confusing a cure with a cause.

Yet, as I peruse the Internet, it seems to me the belief that carbs are fattening is widely held. I don't believe this and I personally think that we lose weight on a low carb diet because when we cut out sugar and refined carb products, we spontaneously consume fewer calories, as fat and protein (the foods with which we replace all those carbs we cut) are much more satiating. And limiting your intake of carbs cuts out an awful lot of food choices. That said, if you eat too much low carb food, you will gain weight, especially if you consume too much fat. Calories do matter.

What is the justifying principle for Paleo? Paleo types try to eat what they guess our Paleolithic ancestors ate. For example, J. Stanton of suggests, "Eat like a predator, not like prey." Unlike low carb dieters, many Paleo adherents don't do dairy, because have you ever tried to milk a wild buffalo? But do we really know what our ancestors ate? It seems to me that a lot of Paleo adherents have a romanticized view of what our ancestors ate.  Some Paleo adherents (e.g., Jaminet, Harris) advocate eating "safe" carbs, such as potatoes, rice, tapioca, etc., in addition to adding dairy. Apparently, Harris is currently eating 40% of his calories as carbs, including a lot of Rice Krispies and half and half (you'll have to listen to a rather long [but interesting!] podcast to hear him admit this).

My main problem with Paleo: its justifying principles are rather shaky. I can find all varieties of people who follow the "Paleo" lifestyle: those who do low carb Paleo; those who eat fruit, since not all ancient fruits were small, bitter, and low in sugar; those who will add some dairy to the previous list; those who will add dark chocolate; those who will add rice or potatoes; those who do vegetarian variants of the Paleo lifestyle; those who do low fat Paleo; and those who try to do some version of Paleo, but who cheat, a little or a lot. There have also been some high profile people quit the Paleo lifestyle, such as Don Matesz. Since there is so much argument about what our Paleolithic ancestors ate, it seems to me that members of the "Paleo" community are more united by what they avoid than by what they eat. They avoid things that make modern man sick, such as refined carbs, dairy, seed oils, processed foods, etc.

I actually appreciate all of the discussions within the Paleo community. As General George Patton once said, "If everyone's thinking the same thing, nobody is thinking." At least some thinking and progressing is going on in the Paleo community. Sometimes, it doesn't seem to me like as much thinking is going on in the low carb community. There does seem to be a lot of agreement in most Paleo camps that modern wheat, seed oils, refined carbs, and processed foods are not healthy to consume. The debate about dairy (fermented, cheese, cream), fruit, potatoes, rice, dark chocolate, etc., is actually very healthy. I know it has helped me change my mind on some topics. And at least they avoid nonsensical arguments like, "All carbs are fattening."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stalled Again

I think I have officially stalled again. For one month now, I have been hanging around the 242-243 pound range. The good news is that almost without effort, my weight has stabilized in a range that is sixty pounds lower than when I started. The bad news is, I am still about 25 pounds away from goal.

Weight Watchers took me all the way down to goal, but it was a miserable experience. Low carb/paleo/Perfect Health Diet has been a much better, overall way to lose weight. I am healthier, I am not hungry, and my type II diabetes is effectively in remission. Yet, I cannot seem to get down to where I want to be. And this is a rather common problem when low carb dieting. What to do? I don't really know yet.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why I Love Belgium, Part I

Belgium is a coastal country, with lots of seafood available, fresh. It is a land of French cuisine in the restaurants, without the French wait staff or attitude. And it is very, very easy for me as a low carb adherent to eat, even when I am on the road and have to eat out all the time. But it is even better when I can cook on my own.

The supermarkets sell all sorts of things, such as lamb, rabbit, duck, wild boar, and on the shelves it is easy to find offal (kidneys, heart, liver, brains, etc.). The eggs are almost all from free range chickens and some say, even on the box, that they don't throw your omega 3s and 6s out of balance. You can buy cheeses made from raw, unpasteurized milk, as well as yogurt, which is simply divine. And the selection of cheeses is enormous! The dark chocolate here is better, and a whole lot less expensive, than what we have to make do with in the states. But even better are the fresh food markets on the weekend.

The one in Antwerp is simply not to be missed. The quality of the vegetables, fruit, cheeses, butter, fish, meats, olives, olive oil, etc. is just amazing. I enjoy wandering around the market on Saturday morning and seeing all of the high quality food. Serious cooks know to get the best produce, fruits, and meat at the markets.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wheat Belly

I just completed Wheat Belly by William Davis, M.D., and wanted to give my two cents about it. Many reviews have already been written in the low carb blogosphere about the book, but I do believe I have something to add. I very much enjoyed the book and learned a lot about why we should avoid wheat.

The basic premise is that wheat has been genetically modified in the past 50 years into something very unhealthy. Dr. Davis lays out the case that consumption of this genetically modified franken-wheat leads to celiac disease, skin rashes, neurological disorders, diabetes, weight gain, etc. He calls it a "super carbohydrate" and singles it out for special attention because of how it spikes blood sugars and causes a lot of other problems. This part of the book was perhaps the most interesting to me, as I did not know a lot about modern wheat, even though it has been in the scientific literature for more than 30 years. Dr. Davis also recounts experiences from his practice as a cardiologist to back up what the literature is saying.

He goes on to describe what I considered to be a rather conventional low carb diet: cut the wheat and other things that spike your blood sugar, plus avoid vegetable oils. Eat meats, nuts, cheese, vegetables, berries, etc., but avoid processed foods. But I did find myself disagreeing with some of his low carb recommendations.

Though I didn't quite realize just how bad modern wheat is, I have realized that wheat is bad and have cut it from my diet for the past seven months. But I have also cut out sugar and vegetable oils and have been convinced about the dangers of the Neolithic Agents of Disease, as Kurt Harris likes to describe the harmful parts of our diet (e.g., wheat, sugar, vegetable oils).

Many people advocate a similar philosophy of eating. Davis condemns all forms of wheat, Taubes condemns sugar, and Enig condemns seed oils and the vilification of tropical and animal fats. Most low carb/paleo types would agree with avoiding these three categories. But there are variations in Davis' low carb diet recommendation.

For example, Davis permits chocolate; Sally Fallon says we should not eat it. Davis is okay with a bit of soy products in the diet, but others suggest avoiding all forms of soy, except some fermented soy products. Like the Perfect Health and the All Vegan Archevore (!) diets, Davis is okay with a small amount of potatoes and rice, if you can handle them, while others totally avoid (and even mock the concept of) "safe starches." Davis says certain legumes, like peanuts and natural peanut butter are okay; the Jaminets counsel us to avoid peanuts. Davis says don't eat wheat but Sally Fallon tells us we can consume properly prepared wheat. Mark Sisson says properly prepared wheat is probably okay to eat, but too much trouble to bother with. It's simply easier to avoid. Davis' arguments themselves focus more on modern wheat than ancient wheat, and he does not address at all the techniques Fallon and other advocate for properly preparing wheat for consumption.

I actually found myself saying, "I wouldn't eat that!" in response to some of the foods Davis says are okay in his version of a low carb diet (e.g., soy products, artificial sweeteners). So rather than adding clarity to my search for low carb wisdom (I already knew wheat was bad and avoided it), he actually ended up by muddling the already murky waters.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Limit to Counting Calories

I am on record as stating that calories count. However, I am about to revise that opinion slightly. I have been counting calories and measuring my macronutrient ratios using the free software at Since I began counting calories in August, I have lost nine additional pounds, after a mild stall. But I have discovered one thing that gives me pause in counting calories: I may still be eating too much.

It is all psychological. I have been rigorously tracking every calorie I consumed, but recently I have noticed that at the end of the day, I often have several hundred calories left. Since I have the calories left, I have felt obligated to use them, even if I wasn't hungry. After all, tells me I should be losing two pounds per week based on my height, weight, and age. But I am not losing two pounds per week and it occurs to me this is because I am consuming too many calories, even when I am below the level stipulated by for a two pound weight loss per week. I think all of these months on a low carb diet have slowed my metabolism.

So I am trying something new this week: eating until I am full, but stopping when I am no longer hungry, even if I have hundreds of calories left. Yes, I will still track the calories but won't feel obligated to consume them. We'll see how this goes.

In the "Good News" category, I have not regained five pounds by switching to the Perfect Health Diet, even after increasing my daily carb intake to around 100 grams per day, mostly from rice, potatoes, and whole milk yogurt.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lipid Profile

I got the results of my completely useless lipid profile today, and my doctor reacted exactly as I predicted (here and here). She applauded my weight loss, congratulated me on low triglycerides and an HDL number in the normal range, but was "very concerned" because my overall score was 197 and my LDL was 142, was 12 points above the upper end of the "normal" range. She wanted to put me on statin drugs, which I politely refused.

Since I suspected this would be the reaction, I brought the explanation of pattern A and pattern B LDL particles to her attention and pointed out that the LDL number was a calculated, not measured, value. I showed her the pages in The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney that discussed why LDL readings are often elevated in people following a low carb diet and explained how the calculation overestimates the LDL cholesterol particles. She did not know what to say.

People like Kurt Harris, M.D. question the whole utility of getting a lipid profile. What's the point? Saturated fats don't cause heart disease and statins don't do anything, so why bother spending money to get a number that is meaningless? I think I can see where Kurt Harris is coming from.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Liver and Onions

Yesterday marked a full week on the Perfect Health Diet, my new take on low carb living. Each day, I had been taking my multivitamin, eating three Brazil nuts, getting enough sun, etc., everything except... eating liver. But I committed to doing the Perfect Health Diet correctly, so, on the last day of the week, we made liver and onions.

And I lived to tell about it. Actually, it wasn't that bad. I followed Sally Fallon's suggestion of soaking the liver in lemon juice for "several hours" prior to cooking it, then cutting it into small pieces, as per the Nutty Kitchen suggestion. I cooked it outside on my Camp Chef stove in a cast iron skillet so as not to stink up my kitchen (we had visitors coming over after dinner).

Cooked this way, with lots of onions, butter and garlic, it was... tasty. And I discovered that my aversion to it was mostly psychological, probably leftover from my teenage years when I was a cook at Perkins Cake & Steak, where we cooked really smelly liver. I like pâté de foie gras, goose liver, and chicken liver pâté, so I wonder what my problem was with beef liver.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Why Taubes has Groupies

In a tweet today (Labor Day, September 5, 2012), Paul Jaminet commented:

I don't think this is hero worship at all. I think it is a visceral, positive response to his message, reinforced by successful weight loss. Let me explain.

DISCLAIMER: I have matured in my low carb way of eating and thinking. I have given up on several of Taubes' ideas, because they didn't jive with my experience. I believe calories count, that exercise matters, that there are safe carbs, and I am following the Perfect Health Diet version of low carb eating now. I believe that we have confused an obesity cure (cutting carbs) with an obesity cause (carbs are fattening). Just because cutting carbs can cure obesity does not mean that carbs cause obesity (thank you, Chris Kresser, for expressing this idea). I eat about 100 grams of carbohydrates per day, mostly from whole milk yogurt or safe starches such as rice and potatoes. I have also lost almost 60 pounds thanks to the low carb way of eating, and Gary Taubes introduced me to it, for which I am very grateful. Even though I no longer believe some of what he wrote, he had a powerful influence on my life, for the better.

Okay, now the explanation. I don't know if Paul Jaminet or Emily Deans or Beth Mazur have ever been obese or not, though I suspect they have not. Taubes' message rings true if you have struggled, unsuccessfully, with weight for a long time. I have struggled through thick and, sometimes, thin, for most of my life. I have been about 100 pounds overweight, lost that on Weight Watchers, regained it (very embarrassing), and despaired about ever being able to achieve a normal weight. I was about to give up, when a post on linked to Why We Get Fat. I downloaded the book from, but didn't immediately get around to listening to it, until the 12th and 13th of February, 2011.

Taubes gave an explanation for obesity that didn't focus on me being a slothful glutton. He provided a rational that led me to believe my metabolism was broken, and that I had been lied to by the low fat, high carb establishment, including Weight Watchers. I clearly remember listening to this explanation with my jaw slack. It was something completely different than anything I had ever heard, and it put the blame on insulin rather than on my weak will and base desires. No wonder Weight Watchers failed! According to Taubes, I was starving at a cellular level! On Valentine's day, I started eating low carb and I lost 11 pounds in the first two weeks. Success! I had personal evidence that what Taubes said worked, and I was firm in the belief that I had been fat for reasons other than my weak will and abnormal appetite. Further, the low carb diet slayed my hunger demons and made it possible for me to go about the day, without obsessing on food, just as Taubes said. He had great credibility with me, and I bought and devoured Good Calories, Bad Calories and had several epiphanies reading that. Such as the whole Ancel Keys story on the demonization of saturated fat. I was hooked.

Only later did I realize that some of his ideas were not scientifically grounded, that he was a theorist, not an empiricist. I discovered alternative voices, such as Kurt Harris, Paul Jaminet, and Jenny Ruhl, all of whom viewed low carbing differently than Taubes. I have gradually changed my view of some of Taubes' ideas, but it took a long time for the halo effect to wear off. It still hasn't worn off completely, and I am grateful Taubes exposed the whole "fat is bad" line of reasoning and that he introduced me to the low carb way of eating.

To an obese person, Taubes' message resonates powerfully, even viscerally. When you experiment on what he said, you get immediate, substantial results. No wonder so many people think so highly of him.

Right or wrong, that is why he has a lot of followers and that is why he is such a big name in the low carb community.

10% Goal Reached--Again

The weight loss continues to happen, though much more slowly than at the beginning of my low carb way of eating. That said, today I hit another milestone. I lost 10% of my body weight--for the second time. I started out weighing 301.6, then some time in early May, I hit my first 10% goal by losing my first 30 pounds (271.6). Today when I weighed myself (I weigh in every Monday morning), I was at 242.6, down another 29 pounds and realized that some time in the last week or two, I hit my 10% goal again.

A lot has changed since Valentine's Day, 2011, when I embarked on this low carb way of eating. At first, I was losing weight very rapidly, but that has slowed in recent months, to about a pound per week. I have changed my approach to my low carb way of eating. First, after stalling, I started to count calories.  Then I doubled my carbs about a month ago but still stayed under 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.  About a week ago, I started the Perfect Health Diet, a low carb way of eating that permits "safe" starches, such as rice and potatoes. I don't eat a lot of these safe starches, just enough to provide my body with the glucose it needs to function, but that effectively means I have doubled my carb intake again, this time to around 100 grams of carbs per day.  I was afraid of gaining water weight by doing this, but that hasn't happened so far, and I am cautiously optimistic. This past week's weight loss came from the Perfect Health Diet version of my low carb eating experience.

Even though the weight loss has slowed, I am more committed than ever to this way of eating. My hunger is at bay thanks to the protein and fat I consume and the food I am able to eat is very delicious. It is a much more pleasant experience than Weight Watchers, even if the weight came off faster on Weight Watchers. This is sustainable and I feel like I will be able to eat this way for the rest of my life. That is the key to weight loss and weight maintenance.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Five Perfect Health Diet Days

Today is the fifth day on the Perfect Health Diet version of low carb. The good news: no five pound weight gain! I have been eating about 100 grams of carbohydrates per day for each of the past five days with no real negative effect on blood glucose levels, and no weight gain.

But there has been a positive effect on the blood sugar. The morning after consuming the first 100 grams of carbs, my fasting blood glucose reading was actually below 100. And it has stayed in the 95 to 105 range ever since. Normally, my fasting blood glucose reading is near 130, the only out of whack blood sugar reading.

So why has it normalized at a lower range? Perhaps because my liver is no longer converting protein to glucose over night. The theory behind the Perfect Health Diet is that your body needs glucose to function, so you might as well provide that glucose with "safe" carbs, rather than stress your liver by forcing it to produce glucose very inefficiently through a process called gluconeogenisis. I had concluded those high fasting blood glucose levels in the morning resulted from my liver converting protein to glucose while I slept.

On a positive note, there are now a lot more foods I can eat, when one allows potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, tapioca, etc., back into the diet.